As director of a film studies program, I have found that the difference
between a clear video image and one that's practically unwatchable can be
a line doubler and/or macroscrambler. These devices intervene
between the player and a projector. They double the number of lines,
which of course determines the resolution, they reduce noise, which
improves color quality, and they remove any interference that may well be
mucking up a picture. We have also found that focal length, from
projector to screen, makes a difference. A focal length of ten feet is
about ideal; mount a projector more than fifteen feet from the screen and
good resolution becomes more difficult, no matter how good your equipment.
A good basic line doubler is the Extron CD400. Higher end models are made
by Faroudja and Runco. These will produce a very clear image using even
entry-level players and projectors. We've gotten very good results from
the Electrohome projectors our univ. technology center buys for the
entire school, and this make would hardly be my first choice.
We also try very hard never to show a video when we can show a laser disc.
In fact, I know this is heresy, but the quality of laser discs these days
is often far superior to that of the 16mm prints that are available--and
this is from someone who believes in using 16mm as much as possible.
Older films have often been restored for laser and not for prints;
subtitles, which as you know, are often yellow on good transfers such as
those of the Criterion Collection, are often far more readable on disc or
even video than on prints; and then there is the format issue, with so
many anamorphic prints gone with the distributor's whim.
I hope I haven't started a big 16mm-vs-video or digital hoohah, since that
wasn't even the issue you raised.
Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
On Sat, 3 May 1997, Charles Derry, Professor of Film, Department of Theatre
Arts, Wright State University wrote:
> A specific, technical question for those who project videotapes in large
> classrooms. We have not had great success finding a stable videotape
> projection system. What we've been using seems adequate for black and
> white films, but less so for color films. It is also very inadequate for
> foreign films with subtitles--the resolution is never good enough to read
> the subtitles without the students getting headaches or complaining. And
> now, that so many important foreign films are no longer available in
> 16mm, (I just found out, for instance, that there are no good 16mm
> prints available of JULIET OF THE SPIRITS), we must increasingly rely on
> the projection of videotapes or laserdiscs.
> If you have been using a system which you've found to be of great
> quality, could you indicate the specific brand names, model number, and
> so forth? Has anyone had great success in projecting films with
> subtitles? Respond either to this list or to me personally.
> I would greatly appreciate your input.
> Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama.